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  CSPAN    Tonight From Washington    News/Business. News.  

    September 21, 2010
    8:00 - 11:00pm EDT  

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[captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] >> i really underestimated how big the job was and because i was the republican minority whip, i had not been the minority leader. i jumped to speaker overnight and from a minority power we thought we didn't think we were going to be in pour and the biggest one-party increase in american history. >> newt gingrich on his tenure as house speaker and possible 2012 presidential bid. sunday on c-span. . .
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ms. collins: thank you, mr. president. mr. president, i come to the floor to discuss the defense authorization bill and the don't ask, don't tell provisions included in it. let me start by making my position crystal clear. i agree with the chairman of the
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joint chiefs of staff, admiral mike mullen, that the don't ask, don't tell law should be repealed. it should be repealed, contingent upon the certain fictions ocertifications of the, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff that its repeal would not have an adverse impact on military readiness, recruitment and retention. and those are, mr. president, exactly the provisions that are included in the defense authorization bill. my view is that our armed forces should welcome the service of any qualified individual who is willing and capable of serving
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our country. the bottom line for me is this. if an individual is willing to put on the uniform of our country, to be deployed in war zones like iraq and afghanistan, to risk his or her life for our country, then we should be expressing our gratitude to those individuals, not trying to exclude them from serving or expel them from the force. that is why, mr. president, during consideration of this bill in may i supported the compromise provisions that were put forth by senator lieberman and senator levin. at a previous senate armed services committee hearing, i
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asked admiral mullen if there were any evidence at all that allowing gay and le lesbian tros to serve had harmed military readiness in those countries that allow their service now. at least 28 countries, including great britain, australia, canada, the netherlands, and israel, allow open service by lesbian and gay troops. we have no greater allies than great britain, australia, canada, and israel, and none of these countries, not one, reports morale or recruitment problems. at least nine of these countries have deployed their forces alongside american troops in operation iraqi freedom, and at
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least 12 of these nations are allowing open service and are currently fighting alongside u.s. troops in afghanistan. there's a cost involved in our current policy. according to a 2005 g.a.o. report, american taxpayers spend more than $30 million each year to train replacement for gay troops discharged under the don't ask, don't policy. the total costs reported since the statute was implemented, according to g.a.o., has been nearly $200 million and that doesn't count the administrative and legal costs associated with investigations and hearings. the military schooling of gay troops, such as pilot training
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and linguist training. we are losing highly-skilled troops to this policy. according to the g.a.o., 8% of the service members let go under don't ask, don't tell held critical occupations defined as services such as interpreters, 3% had skills in an important foreign language such as arabic, farsi or korean. more than 13,000 troops have been dismissed from the military simply because of their sexual orientation since president clton signed this law in 1993. mr. president, society has changed so much since 1993, and we need to change this policy as well. but let me
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say, mr. president, that i respect the views of those who disagree with me on this issue, such as the ranking member of the senate armed services committee, senator mccain, and i will defend the right of my colleagu to offer amendments on this issue and other issues that are being brought up in connection with the defense authorization bill, and there are many controversial issues in this bill. they deserve to have a civil, fair and open debate on the senate floor, and that is why i am so disappointed that rather than allowing full and open debate and the opportunity for amendments from bh sides of the aisle, the majority leader
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apparently intends to shut down the debate and exclude republicans from offering a number of amendments. this would be t 116th time in this congress that the majority leader or another member of the majority has filed cloture rather than proceeding to the bill under an agreement that would allow amendments to be debed. what concerns me even more is the practice of filling up the amendment tree to prevent republican amendments, and if that is done on this bill, it will be the 40th time. now, mr. president, i find myself on the horns of a dilemma. i support the provisions in this
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bill. i debated for them. i was the sole republican in the committee that voted for the lieberman-levin language on don't ask, don't tell. i think it's the right thing to do. i think it's only fair. i think we should welcome the service of these individuals who are willing and capable of serving their country, but i cannot vote to proceed to this bill under a situation that is going to shutown the debate and preclude republican amendments. that, too, is not fair. so i'm going to make one final plea to my colleagues to enter into a fair time agreement that will allow full and open debate, full and open amendments to all
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the provisions of this bill including don't ask, don't tell, even though i will vote against the amendment to sike don't ask, don't tell provisions from this bill. now is not the time to play politics simply because an election is looming in a few weeks. again, i call upon the majority leader to work with the republican leaders to negotiate an agreement on the terms of debate for this bill so that we can debate this important defense policy bill this week, including the vital issue of don't ask, don't tell. thank you, fair for us to be using up all of our time in advance. mr. president, this morning a number of republican senators stated that they would support the current filibuster of this
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bill because they were afraid that if we take up this bill, we're going to have a closed process that would limit their ability to offer amendments. now, the majority leader has addressed this issue. he specifically said last thursday that he's willing to work with republicans on a process that will permit the senate to consider these matters and complete the bill as soon as possible. he's very clear on this thing. he is not trying to prevent other amendments from being offered. however, mr. president, there aren't going to be any amendments -- there's not going to be any opportunity too vote on any amendments unless we get 60 votes to overcome the current fibilityd and proceed to the bill. -- the current filibuster and proceed to the bill. it makes no sense for senators to block all amendments, which is what the effect will be if we don't end this filibuster, to deny consideration of this bill so we can consider amendments. it makes no sense to do that under the guise of wanting an open amendment process. we're pea not going to have any amendments unless we can get to
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this bill, unless we end this filibuster. amendments are appropriate. we've always had amendments on the defense bill. the majority leader assures we're going to do that again, and i would do everything i can to make sure that's true as chairman. so the issue today is not whether or not there's going to be specific amendments in order. it's whether we're going to get to the bill so we can try to consider amendments to the defense authorization bill. there's many amendments that should be considered, and i hope that we cannot continue this filibuster. i hope we can get 60 votes and do the important work of the nation which is to get a defense authorization bill passed after it's been considered. i would yield the balance of my time. mr. mccain: how much time do i have? the presiding officer: minutes and 50 seconds. mr. mccain: mr. president, this is obviously an important vote that is coming up.
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and i repeat, i'm not opposed in principle to bringing up the defense bill and debating it, amending it and voting on t i am not opposed to have full debate on whether to repeal don't ask, don't tell and then allow the senate to legislate. i am opposed to bringing up the defense bill right out in before the defense department has completed its defense bill right now because we need to know the views of the men and women who are serving in the military in uniform. give them a chance to tell us their views, whether you agree to or disagree with the policy, whether you want to keep it or repeal t the senate should not be forced to make this decision now before we've heard from our troops. we've asked for their views, and we should wait to hear from them. and all four service chiefs have said the same thing: let's conduct the survey, let's get it dorntion and then act on whether to repeal or not repeal. there's one other aspect of this, mr. president. this is a blatant political ploy in order to try to galvanize the
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political base of the other side which is facing a losing election. that's why the majority leader said we would take up don't ask, don't tell, take up the "dream" act and then take up the issue of secret holds and then address the other issues after the election. i wonder why the majority leader would have those priorities? in other words, take up those that would be politically beneficial, galvanize its political base as far as the hispanic community is concerned and the gay and lesbian community, and then take up the other issues after -- after the election is over in lame-duck session. i have -- this majority leader has invoked -- has filled up the tree and has not allowed debate 40 times -- 40 times -- more than all the other majority leaders ahead -- before -- preceding him.
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and we need -- and last year the hate crimes bill was arranged in such a way that there would not amendments that were -- that were -- could be proposed by my side of the aisle. so let's vote against cloture, sit down and try to reach some kind of an agreement. let the men and women in the military be heard from. let their leaders go to their men and women who are serving and tell them that we have heard your input before we make this legislative change and stop the cynical manipulation of the men and women in the military in order to get votes on november 2. mr. president, i reserve the balance of my time. mr. levin: how much time do i have? the presiding officer: two
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minutes. mr. levin: i yield the time to the senator connecticut. mr. lieberman: thank senator levin. i rise to oppose the filibuster of the national defense authorization act and to say what is obvious, that there's -- this is a preelection campaign season. there's a lot of politics, partisan politics swirling swir. everything going on is procedural. but there's two things that i know. i want to express them about this vote coming up. one is, we have to proceed to consider the national defense authorization act. if we don't do it today, i hope we'll do it as soon after as we can because our military needs it. they're in imavment without this legislation passing -- they're in combat. without this legislation pass, we will not have the increased compensation and benefits for the military and their families. we will not have authorization for critical military construction. we'll not have authorization for
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acquisition of critical military equipment that our troops need to fight safely on our bafnedz and to remain what -- on our behalf, and to remain what they are, the bravest, most effective fighting force in the world. so it may not be today. but it will be sometime before the end of the year that we've got to take this bill up. it is our national constitutional, moral responsibility. second, and this is a controversial part, of course, i believe that we've got repeal don't does, don't tell. not only because it's not consistent with american values of equal opportunity, of judging people by whether they can do a job or not, not not by their nationality, their religion, their gender, their race or their sexual orientation. can you do a job? and if you can do it, then you can get that job in america. and we've got thousands of americans who are patriotic, who want to serve, who happen to be gay or lesbian, and we're telling them, you can't. and not only that, we've kicked out 14,000 of them in the last
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17 years under don't ask, don't tell. the presiding officer: the majority time has expired. mr. lieberman: at some point we're going to come to a vote and on don't ask, don't tell. i believe a majority of my colleagues in this chamber -- maybe more than that -- are going do quhai think we need to do, which is to repeal don't don't ask, don't tell. i thank the chair. the presiding officer: the senator froms a has two minutes and 45 seconds. mr. mccain: i just want to emphasize again, mr. president, the statements of the service chiefs. general george casey, "i remain convinced it's critically important to get a better understanding of where our soldiers and families are on this issue and what impacts readiness and unit cohesion might be so i can provide informed military advice to the present congress." i believe that repealing the law before the completion of this review will be seen by the men and women of the army as a reversal of our commitment to hear their views before moving forward." admiral roughead.
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my concern is that legislative changes at this point regardless of the precise language used may cause confusion on the status of the law and the fleet and disrupt the review process itself by leading sailors to question whether their input matters. john conway, "i encourage the congress to let the process the secretary of defense created to run its course." general swartz, "i believe it's important to keep the matter -- the matter of keeping faith with those currently serving in the armed forces that the secretary of defense commission review be completed before there is any legislation to repeal the don't ask, don't tell law." mr. president, let's listen to the people who we've placed in charge of the men and women in the military. this is not the time to move forward on this issue, particularly with a political campaign at its highest. so i hope my colleagues will oppose the cloture vote and
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let's hear a statement in favor of the men and women who are serving in t -- and the military. >> senate republicans voted to stop cloture. the final vote was 56-43. here is more senate debate after the vote took place. the w have been following this vote, this has been an attempt to proceed to the defense authorization bill. it's one of the most important bills that we consider during the course of a year. senator levin of michigan is chairman of the armed services committee, and he was prepared to bring that vote to the floor. there was an attempt made by the majority leader, senator reid, to allow three amendments to be considered, three amendments which would be considered before other amendments on the bill. one of the amendments relating
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to the don't ask, don't tell policy, there is a provision already in the bill which allows after review by the joint chiefs of staff, the president, the department of defense, the possibility of removing this provision from our law. that was one of the amendments. the second amendment related to senate procedure on secret holds, but the third amendment and the one i rise to speak to the one which became the focal point of this last vote. that amendment related to a measure known as the "dream" act. almost ten years ago, i introduced this bill called the "dream" act. the reason i introduced it was because i felt there was a serious injustice and unfairness going on in america. we have within our borders thousands of young people w were brought to the united states by their parents at an early age. i don't know what it was like in their homes, but there weren't
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many democratic votes when i was 5 years old as to where we were going to go for vacation. i went where i was told. these children followed their parents to america. they came here and became part of america. we made certain that they had an opportunity for an education and health care. we made certainhat they had an environment where they could grow up in this country. and for many of them, it was the ly home they ever knew. but because they came to this country with undocumented parents, they were not legal, they were not documented, they couldn't be citizens. that, to me, is a serious injustice. we do not in this country hold the crimes and misdeeds of parents against their children. what i have tri to do with the "dream" act is to give these young people a chance, a chance to earn their way to legal status and become part of the only country they have ever
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known. the "dream" act isn't easy. the "dream" act says if you came here as a child, if you were raised in the united states, good moral character, no criminal record, you graduate from high school, then we give you six years, and in that six-year period of time, you have a chance to do one of two things to become legal. one, serve the united states of america in the military. number two, complete two years of college education. and then we'll give you a chance to come off temporary status and become legal in america. you have to earn your way all the way through, subject to review, examination, all of the requirements that should be there before someone gets this chance of a lifetime. well, the republican minority leader came tohe floor before this vote, and he offered a unanimous consent request which senator reid objected to, but
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here's what it said. of all the amendments that you could consider on the defense authorization bill, you cannot consider any amendment that relates to immigration. i know what that was about. the senate knew what that was about. it was an attempt by the republican side of the aisle to make certain that the "dream" act could never be called on the defense authorization bill. it made an empty argument on that side that this "drm" act has nothing to do with the defense of the united states. it's an empty argument -- mr. reid: would my friend yield for a question? mr. durbin: i would be happyo yield. mr. reid: i say to my fend through the chair, is it not also true that under the terms of the "dream" act, no one becomes a citizen? they get a simple green card, is that true? mr. durbin: they reach legal status. they have to make application to go beyond that. in this situation, young people, undocumented in the united states who want to volunteer to serve in our military cannot do
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it. they are willing to risk their lives for america, and we say no. the secretary of defense knows that's wrong. this morning in a conversation that i had with him in my office over the telephone, he reiterated what he had said to me before: these are the kind of young people we need in america's military, high school graduates from cultural traditions that respect the military, people who are going to make more diversity in our ranks. that's what we need. he knows from a national defense rspectiv these will be good recruits for our military and will distinguish themselves, serving our country and coming up through the ranks. that's what the "dream" act ofred to the defense authorization bill. the republican leadership and every republican senator said no. mr. reid: madam president? the presiding officer: the majority leader. mr. reid: would my friend yield for a question? mr. durbin: i would be happy to yield. mr. reid: i say through the chair, are you telling the american people that the secretary of defense, the man
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chosen by the president of the united states, not only this president but the last president, is in favor of our passing the "dream" act? is that what the senator from illinois is saying? mr. durbin: i would say to the senator from nevada exactly that. the defense department's f.y. 2010-2012 strategic plan for the defense of america specifically includes the "dream" act as a means of meeting the strategic goal and shaping and maintaining a mission-ready, all-volunteer force. in 2007, the deputy under secretary of defense at that time said the "dream" act is very appealing because it would apply to the cream of the crop of students and be good for readiness. over and over again, the department of defense has told us this is an opportunity for the yog people to serve our nation, f america to be a safer place. i want to say to my friend, the senator from nevada, i told him this story earlier, this young man came this morning to the united states capitol from the city of new york, i say to the presiding officer. he lives in brooklyn.
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his name is caesar vargas. caesar vargas came to the united states at the age of 5, brought here by his parents from mexico. graduated fm the public schools in new york and then went on to graduate college. now, it was more difficult for him because he is undocumented. he could get no federal aid to education, no pell grants, no stent loans. but he made it, he graduated. after 9/11, i would say to the presiding officer he said to us this morning, because of my deep commitment to america, i tried to enlist in the marine corps. i wanted to defend this country after we had been attacked by terrorists. he not only tried the marine corps, he tried other branches, and repeatedly he was turned down because caesar vargas is undocumented. but his dream has not died. now he is a third-year student at the city university of new york law school. he speaks four languages.
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he said he is studying a fifth, cantonese. he is an exceptionally gifted young man. and do you know what his ambition is? once again, to join the marine corps, to be in the judge advocate general corps, to serve america, a country which he dearly loves. because of this republican decision, procedural decision, to say we couldn't consider the "dream" act, we won't have a chance to vote on this bill at this time, on this important measure which would give caesar vargas and thousands just like him a chance to volunteer to serve america. i would say to my friends and colleagues on both sides of the aisle where is the justice in this decision? at least have the courage to let us bring this matter to the floor and stand up and vote no. but to hide behind this procedural ruse, this unanimous consent request is totally unfair. it is inconsistent with the spirit and the history of this chamber where we deliberate and debate and vote.
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but they ran and they hid behind this procedural decision. mrreid: madam president? would the senator yield just for a brief question? and statement? i want everyone within the sound of my voice to understand how much i appreciate and thousands and thousands of other people appreciate senator durbin's advocacy on this issue, but i also want everyone within the sound of my voice to knowe're going to vote on the "dream" act. it's only a question of when. this is so fair. that's all this is about, it's fairness, basic fairness. i -- i have to say to my friend from illinois, i feel so bad, i have got a stack of letters in my office and the most heart-wrenching stories of these dreamers. they are dreamers. but i want them to understand this isn't the end of this. we're going to continue to move on. we know we have been blocked
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procedurally, but this is the firs time that we have had our colleagues on the other side of the aisle stand up and defy basic fairness on the "dream" act. they have gone around telling people, yeah, we like it, we like it, but here was their chance. all we wanted to do was bring it to the floor. they wouldn't even let us do that. they didn't have the courage to allow us to have a vote on this. and i want my friend to know how deeply appreciative im, speaking for thousands and thousands of other people for what you have done on this issue. mr. durbin: i thank the senator from nevada, the majority leader. i will tell him and those who are following this debate, some o are in the chamber, in the galleries, i'm sure, are disappointed if not heartbroken at this point. i mentioned caesar vargas who is here, gaby pecheko and so many others who have worked so hard for this chance today. my promise to them is this: as long as i can snd behind this desk and grab this microphone and use my power as a united
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states senator, i will be pushing for this "dream" act. it is my highest priority. it is a matter of simple american justice, a i would hope that 11 republicans who joined us last time will stop cowering in the shadows and come forward and join us in a bipartisan effort and not stop us procedurally from even debating and deliberating this critical issue. for those who are so sad today, take heart. tomorrow is another day, and we will be there to fight for you. many others will join us. and don't give up your dream to be part of this great nation. i yield the floor. a senator: mr. president? the presiding officer: the senator from hawaii. mr. inouye: just a little step back in history, if i may say so? on december 7, 1941, something terrible happened in hawaii. pearl harbor was bombed by the
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japanese. three weeks later, the government of the united states declared that all japanese americans, citizens born in the united states of japanese ancestry were to be considered enemy alien. as a resul like those undocumented people, they could not put on the uniform of this land. well, i was 17 at that time, and naturally i resented this because i loved m country and i wanted to put on a uniform to show where my heart stood, but we were denied, so we petitioned the government and a year later, they said okay, if you wish to volunteer, go ahead. well, to make a long story short, the regiment i served in made up of japanese americans had the highest casualties in
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europe but the most decorated in the history of the united states. and i think your beneficiaries will do the same. the presiding officer: the senator from michigan. mr. levin: let me -- i know the senator from hawaii has to leave. i wish every american could have heard from a hero, not of this body, of this nation and of the world. senator inouye did more than swim against the tide in order to put on the uniform of this country. he had to fight his way into the army. he then became a medal of honor winner. highest medal of valor that can be granted was granted, awarded to senator inouye. he gave up more than just a few years of his life. he gave up part of his body for
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this country. and his eloquence, his passion for proper treatment of people who want to put on the uniform of this nation is extraordinarily powerful, and i only wish that every -- every american could have heard it, and i thank him for that service and for that statement. but i also want to add a thank you to the senator from illinois, and i want to reinforce something that he said by asking him a question. it had to do with that unanimous consent request which he referred to. and the way this request was worded, even if -- well, let me back up. we've heard for two days an objection from republicans that there would be nonrelevant amendments that would be offered which, of course, are permitted under our rules. as a matter of fact, the senator from arizona has on a number of occasions on this bill offered nonrelevant amendments.
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but even if that "dream" act amendmentfours were modified so that it only related to young men and women who wanted to go into the army to serve their country and the educational part of it, as imptant as that is, if that were left out, even if the amendment were designed so that it could be referred to the armed services committee because it would be defense reled, even if you could design an amendment like that, under this unanimous consent agreement, no amendment related to immigration would be in order durg those first amendment. now, is that not singling out immigration, saying, despite all of the protestations we heard here about wanting to make sure that amendments were relevant -- despite the history that that's not required under our rules -- but that's the ptestations we
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heard over the last two days. we want relevant amendment, and the "dream" act isn't relevant. under this unanimous consent, even if the "dream" act were modified so that it might be within the jurisdiction of the armed services committee because it would be focused on service in the armed forces, under this amendment, no amendment relating to immigration would be in order during those amendments. is that correct? mr. durbin: i reply to the senator from michigan through the chair, and i tha him for this question, just as the door was closed on dan inouye of hawaii when, as a japanese-american, he want [no audio]
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convinced that many of the young people who leave heartbroken today by this vote will get their chance someday, just as you, did senator, and they will serve this country with distinction and they will lead this nation, as you have led us >> why did this bill get blocked? >> there were potentially
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contentious amendments regarding the 1993 law regarding the service of days and at the military. >> two democrats joined republicans in the efforts. who were they? >> they were the arkansas senator, blanche lincoln, and mark pryor. coln put out a statement that she has a whole series of amendments she would like to offer, and she is unsure she would be able to. >> what happens now? >> in all likelihood, the bill is pushed off into the lame duck session after the election. >> what is next on the agenda? >> the next that majority leader
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read would like to turn to is a campaign disclosure finance bill that was previously not able to come up on the floor in late july. they would like to take another crack at that bill, probably on thursday. >> you mentioned the lame duck session in november. when our numbers to be released before the run up to the election? >> is still expected to be the eighth of october. however, majority whip richard durbin indicated that they would like to be done by october 1st. >> we appreciate your time. >> thank you. >> of this weekend, american history tv, a look at the rare and personal belongings of george washington.
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a program on at the music of curtis mayfield and his impact on of the civil rights movement. how winston churchill compares to leaders of today. all weekend every weekend, american history on tv, on c- span-3. >> now to the distracted driving at summit. transportation secretary raymond lahood summed up the efforts at the national and local levels to reduce distracted driving habits. this is 30 minutes. >> good morning.
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thank you and so much for being here. i want to say thank you to the people who organized desk, and a special thank you to president obama who gave me the opportunity to focus on an issue i have become passionate about. i could not have done it without president obama's leadership been giving me this opportunity. i want to thank my colleague, hilda solis. thank you for being here and for your leadership. i know that when you heard about the osha folks coming here you said that you wanted to be here, and we are grateful for that. we look forward to your remarks. a special hello to the people who are participating remotely on www.distraction.gov, particularly the students. i also want to thank the
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extraordinary staff at d.o.t. for those who have not had an opportunity to meet our staff, we have a very gifted people, people who come to d.o.t. for the right reasons, to carry out the president's agenda, but also to step up and leave the department in a way that i have not seen in the history of the department of transportation. i am grateful to all of our staff who are here for your leadership. welcome, everyone, to the second national distracted driving summit. it is hard to believe that a year has passed since we first came together and began the work of assessing and addressing america's distracted driving prices. and it is hard to believe that we have come so far -- distracted driving crisis. and it is hard to believe that we have come so far so fast in
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our crusade to end it. this has become a campaign for me. last year after the distracted driving at summit. we invited families to come to washington to tell their stories. more than 300 people came and listened. many of you were in that audience last year, and we are delighted you came back. thousands participated over the internet, which is happening right now. while it is one thing to hear from researchers, academics, a law-enforcement officials, it is another to hear from the parents, children and siblings of people who are -- of people who were killed. i spent time with three of those people. we were scheduled to participate in a cable news program. we had a long discussion before
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the program started. during that conversation, jennifer, dave and judy convince me that we should create a group like mothers against drunk driving. the idea would be a national advocacy group devoted to ending distracted driving. that was born in the studios of cnn. during the year since, jennifer, dave, judy and other members have travelled the country doing important and inspiring work, putting a human face on a terrible problem. at last year's summit, we learned that distracted driving is an epidemic. it is an epidemic because everyone has a cell phone, and everyone thinks they can use it while driving. you all know this. if i asked for a show of hands -- which i am not going to do
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[laughter] -- i know that everyone of you has a self done. and i also know that everyone has used it while driving. do not deny it. we are hooked on it. that is why it is an epidemic. there is no bigger distraction than people on a cell phone or people texting and driving. there is not. you cannot drive safely doing that. i want to say a special word of thanks to the chief of police of washington, d.c. she came to visit me recently about some safety issues around our department. i asked her if she would post some people across the street. the sea has a very good law on texting and private -- d.c. has a very collage on texting and driving and cell phone use. so, when you came in here this
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morning, you might have seen some people issuing tickets. i want to say a special word of thanks to the d.c. police chief for her efforts to begin to change the kind of danger is bigger than has taken place too long in communities all over america, but in particular in washington, d.c. so, every time someone takes their focus off the road, even if it is just for a minute, they put their lives and the lives of others in danger. distracted driving is unsafe, irresponsible, and in a split second, it consequences can be devastating. there is no call or e-mail so important that it cannot wait. my advice to people is, buckle up, which 85% of the people do today, thanks to work we did for a long time on in the "click it short ticket" program.
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so, my advice to people is buckle up and put yourself on in the glove compartment. texting or talking on the self on has resulted in at 500 deaths and four hundred 50,000 injuries in 2009. we believe this has just been the tip of the iceberg, because many police reports do not include whether or not texting or talking on the phone was a distraction in an accident. there are mothers and fathers, sons and daughters, men and women in this audience to have planned funerals who will tell you exactly what is at stake. last night i met with the families who are participating in the press conference today to tell their heartbreaking stories. i am grateful to them. what i said to them was, it is not about statistics. it is about the people behind the statistics.
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that is what it is about. so, i would like for those people who have come here today to tell their stories, to please stand and be recognized. [applause] so, the situation is not without hope's. we have seen that drivers can and do change their behavior is. for example, we told americans get -- ticket.to we have reminded americans that if they are over the influence -- under the influence, they will be arrested.
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we have seen drunken-driving fatalities degrees. 10 years ago, nobody was wearing their seat belt. nobody wanted to wear a seat belt. today, 85% of the people the get in a car where a seat belt. you know as well as i do, people said we will never get drunk drivers off the road. in the old days, our friends in law enforcement would call a cab, get somebody a ride tom, let them drive tom. today, people are arrested, put in jail for drunk driving, and they lose their driving privileges. we are right at the starting gate on distracted driving. if we stop for a moment and ask why, we see the ingredients for a recipe that will prove effective against distracted driving. we need tough, effective laws and good enforcement. we need public education. but most of all, we need
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personal responsibility. each one of us needs to take personal responsibility. buckle up. but the cell phone or blackberry in the glove compartment. -- put the cell phone or blackberry in the glove compartment. today, we are announcing three new actions consistent with this formula. one, we are submitting a proposal to ban a truck drivers from texting while on at the job. we proposed a rule to restrict train drivers from using cell phones or other electronic devices while in the driver's seat. today that proposal also becomes a final regulation. you know about that in california. 28 people were killed because a train driver was texting and driving. there is no excuse for that. maybe some of you saw the bus driver who was reading his amazon kindle while waiting -- while driving the bus, and
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somebody had the good sense to take a picture with their self some, and a bad driver lost his job. he was -- take a picture with phone, and that the driver lost his job. third, we are proposing to ban texting while driving a truck carrying hazardous materials. among the important success stories of last year are the thousands of u.s. companies that have imposed distracted driving policies of their own. one partner in this effort is the network of employers for traffic safety, an alliance of major corporations, including many on the court and 500 list. this has been established for 20
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years. they are driven by the idea that corporate cellphone policies are a central pieces of -- is essential pieces of employee safety equipment. they will hold a drive safely work week during which they will remind businesses about the importance of safe driving. i am also pleased to announce some exciting news. in advance of this summit, we surveyed american businesses about distracted driving policies. we discovered that 1600 organizations, covering approximately 10.5 million workers across the country, have already adopted such policies, and we convinced 550 more companies, covering 1.5 million more employees, to adopt similar measures during the past year. this is not a bad step toward our goal.
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every employer in the the country should discourage workers from texting or talking on the telephone while driving. from other private sector friends, whether in the wireless industry, the insurance industry or the automobile industry, we have seen a number of constructive measures. the wireless association and individual insurance companies have been vocal in warning the public not to be distracted behind the wheel. that is a start and we are grateful. of the company's support laws that ban drivers from talking or texting while driving. the public is safer for it. but friends are honest with each other, and i think it is fair to say that we must all go further. in recent days and weeks, we have seen a news stories about carmakers' adding technology in vehicles that lets drivers update facebook, a surf the web,
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or do any other number of things instead of safe driving. facts are facts. features that apple driver's hands, eyes at -- features that attract driver's hands, eyes and attention away from the road are dangerous. safetyr, let's put before entertainment. let's ensure that advances and innovation go hand in hand -- hand in hand with progress the decreases distraction related deaths and injuries. still, laws, guidelines, rules and regulations do little good if we do not enforce them, so we at d.o.t. are running two pilot programs, one in connecticut and the other in the new york. we are testing whether high-
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visibility enforcement can change driver behavior. the early data shows that it works. according to new n.h.t.s.a. research available today, hand- held cell phone use has dropped 56% in connecticut and 38% in new york. texting has dropped in both places as well. there has been a groundswell of grassroots support for our cause. groups of like mom's spread the message far and wide that the only safe way to get from one place to another is to hang up and drive. the entertainment industry is leading the charge also. during the national football league preseason, espn plastered the message, "stop distracted driving," on the side of their tour bus, which they drove
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15,000 miles from training camp to training camp. the jaundice and brothers and the american title winner participated in allstate -- the jonas brothers and american idol winner participated in an allstate project. oprah winfrey devoted an entire television show to stopping texting while driving. at the same time as americans called for action, government took notice. last year alone, legislatures in 43 states considered more than two hundred distracted driving bills. during 2010, 12 state outlawed texting behind the wheel, and hand-held cell phone
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use. as i said, the president of the united states prohibit all federal employees -- a four million person work force at -- from texting while driving. even the united nations got in the game. last spring, i stood with the secretary general at un headquarters along with our great un ambassador as he imposed a directive banning the u. n's 40,000 employees from text messaging while operating vehicles on official business. in all of these ways, the last year has been very positive. i cannot think of another safety issue in american history that has gained so much traction in such a short period of time. we still have not solved the problem, not by a long shot. and you do not need to take my word for it.
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we have several people with us today to have suffered indirectly as a result of distracted driving, and i thank them again for joining us, for turning the worst moments of their lives into solving and saving the lives of others. i cannot do justice to all of the stories, but with your permission i would like to tell a few. robert and i leaned from santa maria california lost their 19 -- robert and eileen from santa maria, calif., lost their 19- year-old son. he was riding his bike in the middle of the day when a young woman in a pickup truck struck him. she was texting in the driver's seat. a miss johnson from-belt -- from ash built -- amos johnson from
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asheville, n.c., lost his daughter when she was hit head- on by a distracted drivers. she was texting at the time of the crash. there is a couple here from maryland. in two thousand eight -- in 20 they left their florida, to go to -- they left their florida house to go to a wedding planners office. they dreamed of a fairy tale wedding at disney world. on the way, they stopped at a traffic light. eight tractor truck driver plowed into the back of their car. it set off a chain reaction that left other and another woman
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dead. the driver was texting behind the wheel. these people came from all parts of the country. they have bright futures. they are the kind of kids that every parent hopes for. they are the kind of parent that every child the doors, and in inherit too short lives how many people need to die on our watch, not because of evil or malice, but because of carelessness and very dangerous behavior? during this last year, many of you have been part of a rising chorus shouting enough. today we gather and we will take measure as to how far we have come. and the distance we have yet to
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travel. share with you are doing, share with you have learned, ask questions, listen to new ideas, come up with some new ideas of your own, but no this -- we are in this together. we will solve this together. we will not let up till distracted driving is the behavior of the past. i am very grateful to all of you for being here, for being part of our team. shoulder to shout her -- shoulder, arm in arm, we will conquer this distracted driving problem. thank you all very much. [applause] >> thank you, mr. secretary.
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it is such an honor and my great fortune to follow secretary ray lahood who has all of you just heard inspires all of us and all of the nation's drivers to take personal responsibility every minute that they are operating on the highways. for the administration, that means the 4 million commercial drivers and half a million his truck and bus companies across the nation and how they operate in the workplace. if you heard the secretary reference, our administration employs across the country -- employees have developed from concept to final rule a ban on texting for all commercial vehicle operators in less than a year. his leadership is inspiring. as we consider how to promote safety among all drivers, for many of us in the department of transportation, it is safety in the workplace.
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for a truckdriver, their workplace is the individual cab of the truck, hauling 80,000 pounds of the nation's roadways. for the bus operator, it may be a transit operation, moving our schoolchildren, moving people to destinations like disney world and places across the country. those workplaces have to be saved, keeping both hands on the wheel, just hang up and drive. it is particularly great have the next speaker here. hilda solis, giving recognition that the transportation workers and those employees across the workplaces and less conventional workplaces that we recognize the importance of safe operations in even less conventional workplaces more than ever. these are occupations the keep our neck -- nation moving, our
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economy driving, it is our job to keep them safe. as i mentioned, secretary lahood is inspiring on those who work in transportation. our next baker it is equally inspiring to our nation's workers into the 17,000 employees of the u.s. department of labour. secretary hilda solis is a champion for workers' families and workers rights. she is a travel agent, the first to go to college and her family, the first to earn a graduate degree, the first let teaneck elected to the state senate in california. the first latina in the president's cabinet. her passion for workplace safety runs deep. secretary so les's his father bought for safety at a battery recycling plant where he worked. she brings the same values and passions to the department of labour. her mother was equally committed. secretary so is's mother was an
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immigrant from nicaragua, who spent 10 hours a day adequate factory where she worked and was equally outspoken about working conditions. prior to her confirmation as labor secretary, she represented the 32nd congressional district in california, a position she held for four terms. also on nationally recognized leader on the environment, secretary sully's became the first woman to receive the john f. kennedy profile in courage award for her pioneering work on environmental justice is used as a state legislator. please join me in welcoming a trailblazer, a champion of workplace safety, and for our workers across the nation, labor secretary hilda solis. and his 90. -- he thank you. [applause] >> the morning to all of you.
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it is a real pleasure to be with you and especially one of my good friends who i shared with in the house prior to coming into the cabinet, i love hearing him. many millions of people heard him aside over the house of representatives and we became good friends when i served there. as a rookie coming in, he was always a kind gentlemen, very helpful in assisting new members coming into the house. i have very good memories of the work that he did back in the house. and now of course, we are here. i am labor secretary, charged with protecting american workers rise, making sure that there were a lesser state, from ensuring the safety of construction workers to medical professionals, from our nation's miners to line codes, our labor laws protect everyone in the workplace.
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what we experience fewer fatalities today, the leading cause year after year our motor vehicle crashes. a distracted driving dramatically increases the risk of such crashes. this is why the department of labor use occupational health safety administration is partnering with the department of transportation to combat distracted driving. to reduce this deadly toll, we will focus on texting while driving, which is a subject of the executive order signed by president obama last year for federal employees. it is a subject of rulemaking. we call upon all employers to prohibit any work policy or practice that requires or encourages workers to text while driving. the osha act is clear. employers must provide a workplace free of serious
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recognized hazard. it is well recognized that texting while driving dramatically increases the risk of motor vehicle industry -- injury or fatality. if it is imperative that employers eliminate financial or other incentives that encourage workers to text while driving. employers to require it this fall who organize work so that doing so is a practical necessity even if not of a formal requirement by late the osha act. furthermore, we call upon all employers to follow the lead of president obama, secretary lahood, and 30 state laws that protect -- prohibit drivers from texting, to prevent employees from texting while driving to work. it is the top priority at the department of labour. that is what osha -- that is why osha is launching a campaign for the following.
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calling on employers to prevent occupational lead related occupational driving, with a special focus on preventing texting while driving. our web site will carry on an open letter to employers. we will showcase model employee practices to communicate our message. will forge alliances with the national safety council and other key organizations to help with the reach out to employers, especially small employers, to combat distracted driving and pretend that texting while driving. we will listen that this -- place a special emphasis on young workers. we will work with our alliance partners, and an osha receives a credible complaint, or organizes works of the texting is a practical necessity, leave will investigate, and where necessary issue a citation and
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penalty to in that practice. i also ask my division to examine what additional protections can be implemented to ensure that young workers are not subject to distracted unspoiled driving on the job or operating equipment. we cannot put a price on the health and safety of a child. employers have a legal and moral responsibility to protect their workers who ultimately are america's most important asset. our laws are designed specifically to level the playing field for all businesses ensure that workers are kept out of harm's way. by prohibiting texting while driving, we are working to ensure that workers are safe on the road in that their return home safely at the end of their shift. the bottom line is -- no paycheck is worth the life. thank you very much, and a special salute to the families that are here. [applause]
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>> federal health officials have attributed more than 1600 illnesses to the current nationwide salmonella outbreaks caused by contaminated eggs. tomorrow, the owner of the two egg companies will testify. we will hear from the food drug administration. live coverage begins and noon eastern on c-span3. now a medal of honor ceremony for richard etchberger. he received the nation's highest honor for his actions in combat on march 11, 1968 in the country of laos and was killed in combat. his son spoke briefly with reporters afterwards. this is 25 minutes. ["hail to the chief" playing]
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>> ladies and gentlemen, the president of the united states and the first lady, michelle obama. ♪ >> let us pray. dear lord, how grateful we are for the privilege of living in america. the land of the freed and the home of the brave. we thank you for those
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throughout our nation's history who have left the comfort and security of our shore to stand between their loved homes and the war's desolation. pledging their lives, their fortunes, and their sacred honor to establish and maintain our precious freedoms. today we offer specials thanks for the sacrifice and service of one of america's finest chairman, chief master sergeant richard etchberger. on that fateful day in march 1967, demonstrated enormous courage and valor beyond the call of duty. as the sons of this brave air force warrior receive on his behalf our nation's highest military award, the medal of honor, we know that they will stand just a little taller. so also shall we, a very proud
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and grateful nation. and now as we honor this american hero and the family who loved and supported him, we humbly ask that you raise our time together with your presence and blessing. in your holy and wonders name we pray, amen. >> please be seated. good afternoon, and on behalf of michelle and myself, welcome to the white house. and i thank you, general cyr, for that wonderful invocation. of all the military decorations that our nation can bestow, the highest is the medal of honor. is awarded -- it is awarded for conspicuous gallantry, for risking one's life in action,
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for serving above and beyond the call of duty. today we present the medal of honor to an american who displayed such gallantry more than four decades ago -- chief master sergeant richard l. etchberger. this medal reflects the gratitude of an entire nation. so we're joined by vice president biden and members of congress, including congressman earl pomeroy and from chicha expert's home state of pennsylvania, congressman tim holden. we're joined by leaders from across our administration, including secretary of veterans affairs ric since jackie -- which shinseki, secretary of defense robert gates, vice chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, general jim cartwright,
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and leaders from across our armed services, including the air force secretary and chief the staff. i want to a knowledge record of americans who understand the valor we recognize today, because they displayed it themselves. members of the medal of honor society. most of all, we welcome dick etchberger's friends and family, especially his brother robert, and dick's three sons, steve, richard, and cory. for the etchberger family, this is a day more than 40 years in the making. cory was just nine years old, but he can still remember that winter in 1968 when he, his brothers, and his mom were escorted to the pentagon. the war in vietnam was still raging. dick etchberger had given his life earlier that year.
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now his family was being welcomed by the air force chief of staff. in a small ceremony, dick was recognized with highs offered -- honor that the air force can give, the air force cross. these three sons were told that their dad was a hero, that he had died while they were saving -- while saving his fellow airmen. but they were not told much else. their fathers work was classified, and for years that is all that they really knew. nearly two decades later, the phone rang. it was the air force and their fathers mission was finally being is classified and that is when they learned the trick. that their father had given his life not in vietnam, but in neighboring laos. that is when they began to learn the true measure representative their father's heroism. dick etchberger was a radar technician and he and hand- picked for a secret assignment.
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with a small team of men, he served at the summit of one of the tallest mountains in laos, more than 1 mile high, literally above the clouds. the man at tiny radar station, guiding american pilots in the air campaign against north vietnam. dick and his crew believed that they could help turn the tide of the war, perhaps even end it. and that is why north vietnamese forces were determined to shut it down. they sent their planes to strafe the americans as they worked. they moved in their troops. and eventually, dick and his team could look through their binoculars and see that their mountain was surrounded by thousands of north vietnamese troops. dick and his crew at that point had a decision to make, ask to be evacuated or continue the mission for another day. they believed that no one could possibly scale the mountains steep cliffs.
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and they believed in their work, so they stayed. they continued their mission. there were 19 americans on the mountain that evening. when their shift was over, dick and his four men moved down to a small, rocky ledge on a safer side of the mountain. and then during the night, the enemy attacked. somehow fighters scaled the cliffs and overran the summit. down the side of the mountain, dick and his men were now trapped on that ledge. the enemy lobbed a grenade after grenade, hour after hour. dick and his men would grab those grenades and throw them back or kick them into the valley below. but the grenades kept coming. one airman was killed, and then another. but third airman was wounded, and then another. eventually dick was the only man
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standing. as a technician, he had no formal combat training. in fact he had only recently been issued a rifle. the dick etchberger was the very definition of an nco -- a leader determined to take care of his men. with the enemy started moving down the rocks, dick fought them off. when they look like the ledge would be overrun, he called for air strikes, within yards of his own position, shaking the mountain and clearing the way for rescue. and in the morning light, an american helicopter came into view. richard etchberger lived the airman screed -- to never leave an airman behind, to never falter, to never fail. so as the helicopter hovered above and lowered its sling, dick loaded his wounded men, one by one, each time exposing himself to enemy fire.
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and when a sudden -- and when another airman suddenly rushed forward after eluding the enemy all night, dick loaded him, too. and finally himself. they had made it off the mountain. that is when it happened. the helicopter began to peel away. a burst of gunfire erupted below. dick was wounded. by the time they landed at the nearest base, he was gone. of those 19 men on the mountain that night, only seven made it out alive. three of them owed their lives to the actions of dick etchberger. today we're honored to be joined by one of them, mr. john daniel. among the few who knew of dick's actions, but there was a belief that his valor warranted our nation's highest military honor. but his mission had been a
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secret, and that is how it stayed for those many years. when their fathers mission was finally declassified, these three sons learned something else. it turned out that their mother had known about its work all along, but she had been sworn to secrecy. and she kept that promise, to her husband and her country, all those years not even telling her own sons. today is also a tribute to catherine etchberger, and a reminder of the extraordinary sacrifices that our military spouses make on behalf of our nation. the story might have ended there, with a family finally knowing the truth. and for another two decades, it did. but today also marks another chapter in a larger story of our nation finally honoring that generation of be a number veterans -- of vietnam veterans who served with dedication and
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courage but all too often were shunned when they came home, which was a disgrace that must never happen again. a few years ago, an airman who never even knew dick etchberger read about his heroism and felt he deserved something more, so he wrote his congressman, who made it his mission to get this done. today we thank that airman, retired master sergeant robert dilley, and that congressman, earl pomeroy, who along with congressman holden made this day possible. sadly, dick's wife catherine did not live to see this moment. but today steve and richard and cory, today your nation finally acknowledges and fully honors your father's bravery. because even though it has been 42 years, it is never too late to do the right thing. and it is never too late to pay tribute to our vietnam veterans
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and their families. in recent years, dick story has been known and air force bases have honored him with streets and buildings in his name. and the base where he trained so long ago in barksdale in louisiana, there is a granite monument with an empty space next to his name, and that space can finally be etched with the words "medal of honor." but the greatest memorial of all to dick etchberger is the spirit that we feel here today, the love that inspired him to serve, love for his country and love for his family. and most eloquent -- the most eloquent expression of that devotion of the words that he wrote himself to a friend back home just months before he gave his life to our nation. i hate to be away from home, he wrote from that small base above the clouds, but i believe in the
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job. he said, it is the most challenging job i will ever have in my life. and then he added, i love it. our nation endures because there patriots like chief master sergeant richard etchberger and our troops or serving as we speak who love this nation and defend it. their legacy lives on because their families and fellow citizens preserve it. and as americans, we remain worthy of their example only so long as we honor it, not merely with the medals that we present, but by remaining true to the values and freedoms for which they fight. so please join me in welcoming steve, richard, and cory for the reading of the citation. [applause]
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>> the president of the united states of america, authorized by act of congress, march 3, 1863, has awarded in the name of the congress, the medal of honor to chief master sergeant richard l. etchberger, united states air
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force, for conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of life above and beyond the call of duty. chief master sergeant richard l. etchberger distinguished by extraordinary heroism on march 11, 1968, in the country of laos, while assigned a ground radar superintendent, detachment one, 1,043rd raid our evaluation squadron. on that day, chief etchberger and his team of technicians were manning a top-secret defensive defense position at lima at bay -- line the site 85 when the base was overrun by an eminent critic enemy ground force. receiving sustained and withering heavy all of your attacks directly upon his unit's position, chief etchberger is entire crew lay dead or severely monday. despite having received little or no combat training, chief etchberger single-handedly held off the enemy with an in-16, while simultaneously directing
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fire strikes in areas -- directing air strikes into the area and calling for air rescue. because of his fierce defense and heroic and selfless actions, he was able to deny the enemy access to his position and save the lives of his remaining crew. with the arrival of the rescue aircraft, chief etchberger, without hesitation, repeatedly and deliberately risked his own life exposing himself to heavy enemy fire in order to place three surviving wounded comrades into rescue slings hanging from the hovering helicopter waiting to airlift them to safety. with his remaining crew safely aboard, chief etchberger finally climbed into an attack a question sling himself, only to be fatally wounded by enemy ground fire as he was being raised into the aircraft. his bravery and determination in the face of persistent enemy fire and overwhelming odds are in keeping with a high standards of performance and traditions of military service. chief etchberger s gallantry, self sacrifice, and profound concern for his fellow men at risk of his life, above and beyond the call of duty, reflect
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the highest credit upon himself in the united states air force. -- and the united states air force. [applause] [applause] >> let us pray. and now, o lord, and as we medal of honor of ceremony, and our heart has been stirred by the
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account of chief etchberger's story of bravery and sacrifice, we hope that we may respond with a renewed devotion to the cause of peace and freedom. we also prayed for your blessing and protection to be upon america's sons and daughters who stand in harm's way today, and for their loved ones who carefully and patiently wait. may our efforts, dear lord, lead to a more secure and prosperous world, a world in which all people will one day live in harmony with you and one another. amen and amen. >> thank you very much, everyone. [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2010]
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♪ [piano music playing]
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>> do you fills -- still feel an attachment to the air force? >> i do. i grow and air force brat. when the initial information came out on my father's mission and the air force started to bring us back into the fold by naming facilities after him, streets after them, and at least two or three times a year, there's an air force their money that we get to. not only do we go see them on the our father, but spend time meeting airmen and talking about his life beyond military. we have really been welcomed back into this family, but the brother and myself, into the air force.
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>> next question. >> can you tell us about what this medal of honor means for you and your brothers and the rest of your family, coming after some many years? >> first off, personally for me, it reinforces -- my dad was a really great dad beyond agreed air force person. the missions that he went on over his time in the military, including a lot of other times that he was gone and we did not know what he was doing, which we did not talk about which we were and air force family, we had been told that he had been killed in a helicopter crash. we spent some time over the pentagon after he was killed, and i could not figure that out.
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later on, when we found that exactly what he'd done, it was an emotional time. we knew that he was that kind of a person. today when i was up there accepting the medal of honor, again, a very emotional time. a lot of things came back to me there. he goes back to the days when dad would say to me when i would go somewhere, it would say, remember you're an expert and a part of the air force. that is what -- an ex etchberger and a part of the air force. >> if your father were here today, what you think would say? >> i think my dad would be very humble about it. he really impressed on us that you have a job to do. he was that kind of person. very capable, but a lot of the
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things that he did, he was very particular about things. if he was here, he would say he was just doing his job up there. a lot of times we would have both from the hospital come over, right there during the vietnam war, they were injured, for thanksgiving in these types of things. it was much more giving, and he would be humbled and proud of his achievement. >> we were told that he had very little combat training. he had just learned had a use a weapon. >> i talked to somebody yesterday about that. i had never seen my dad pick up the weapon in my young years they met with him. certainly the thought that mountain was impregnable up there. he thought he had protection from some of the locals.
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again, that is the kind of thing my dad would do. he would do exactly what he did, grab that gun and make it work. the way it change my life is that i have an 11-year-old daughter named molly. my mom passed away before i had my daughter, and i looked back at the way my dad raised me and the way that my grandparents raised my father as the model for the way i want to raise my daughter. things that are important our family, trying to do the right thing, trying to build character, and i'm trying to pass that on and carry on that tradition of my family. >> the senate right now is voting on the don't ask, don't tell policy. the you or your family have any thoughts on that? >> not at this time. >> up next on c-span, president obama is a choice to head the
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marine corps. general james amos is questioned about don't ask, don't tell policies for gays in the military. then the conversation on iran's missile -- nuclear program. and then senate debate on the defense department priorities would include discussion on don't ask, don't tell. on tomorrow morning's "washington journal," we were to talk with peter welch about credit card fees and regulation. after that, greg walden on the november elections. the oregon congressman is a deputy chairman of the in rcc, which oversees selection efforts for republicans. after that, a look at the u.s. foster care system. daniel heimpel joins us. and later, robert mahler and homeland security secretary
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janet napolitano joins us. now the senate armed services committee looks at the nomination of general amos to be the commandants of the u.s. marine corps. he would become the first aviator to hold the top marine corps post. if confirmed, he would replace general james conway, whose four-year tenure at the pentagon in the fall. this is two hours. >> good morning, everybody. today the committee meets to consider the nomination of james amos to be the next commandant of the marine corps. he has a long history in military service and a distinguished history, and now you are being asked to add to that service.
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we're grateful for that and your willingness to do so. we welcome you and your family to today's hearing. senior military officials put in long hours every day, 24/7, and we appreciate this -- the sacrifices that our nominees and their families are willing to make for their country. we know that their families make any sacrifices to support those efforts, so we think your family who are supporting you in your service. we also want you to extend our heartfelt thanks to the men and women of the marine corps who are serving so ably and so i get leak in harm's way around the world, in afghanistan and of course, but not just in afghanistan. if confirmed, general amos will assume leadership of the marine corps at a difficult time. foremost among concerns is that the marine corps has to strain mightily to support ongoing
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operations in afghanistan in support of our overall efforts there. and in other places around the world. the marine corps is facing the prospects of moving operations from okinawa to qualm -- guam to support the government to government agreement with the japanese regarding the long-term presence of marine corps forces in the western pacific. even at this date, there are concerns about the implementation of this agreement, how much will cause, and the potential disruption to or -- to marine corps operating forces. in the spring of 2010, secretary gates made several public statements in which he appeared to question the need for and the size of the navy's and devious fleet in future defense plans and budgets. -- amphibious fleet in future
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defense and plan and budgets. since that time, he is also questioned the need for the expeditionary fighter vehicle in the face of anti-access strategies of potential adversaries. the current lift capability of the navy is for slightly more than 2 meb's, which contain about 6 the scions. some argue that that is too small force to operate against a major adversary. they argue that this means that the nation is only really prepared the use the marine corps and amphibious shipping to conduct forcible entry operations against countries of lesser capability, and the extra ability of an efv to stand off farther from the beach is not needed. there is little room to breathe on the aviation front, either. they're well known concerns about overall naval aviation and potential sources of strike fighter aircraft, a problem that
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the marine share with the other services in the department of the navy. there are well-publicized problems in the joint strike fighter program, the jsf program, if which causes concerns about the marine corps's current plans to achieve an initial operational capability for the jsf in calendar year 2012, while the other services have delayed their ioc's by a couple of years. we look forward to your testimony on these and other foreign issues. i now call on senator mccain for his statement. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and i join you in congratulating general amos on his nomination to be the 35 common data of the marine corps and in welcoming his family and friends. i thank him for his service in his willingness to be serving in this critical importance of leadership position. if confirmed, general amos will of thefirst commandant
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marine corps not from the infantry ranks. though every marine is a rifleman, his additional proficiency as a naval aviator can only be viewed positively, affording him an advantage. general amos is well qualified to succeed general conway as the next, a dent -- commandant. the marine corps today faces many challenges, including providing marines deployed in combat in afghanistan with everything they need to fight and win, ensuring the well being of wounded warriors and marines and their families, and recapitalizing key weapon systems and preparing for future on natural critic national security demands in a constrained budgetary environment. you have been fully engaged as assistant commandants in addressing these challenges and we look for it your testimony about these issues. if you are confirmed, you will be responsible for ensuring the combat readiness of marines and
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marine corps units. a legendary wartime marine, general victor krulak once stated, being ready is not what matters. what matters is winning after you get there. your job will be to ensure that happens and no one in this room understands how to do that better than you do. you also will be a member of the joint chiefs and a military adviser to the president, the national security council, and the secretary of defense. clearly these two hats the service chiefs wear are related, and their views and advice about issues that could affect the marine corps should be sought out and given great weight by national leaders. general, later today the senate will vote on whether the defense authorization act for fiscal year 2011 should be taken up for debate. despite unanimous recommendations of the four service chiefs, the legislation includes a provision that would repeal the so-called don't ask,
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don't tell law. i want to emphasize -- the service chiefs, and we will be talking about this on the floor, all of them said that they wanted to complete study about the effect on morale and battle readiness of their respective services before moving forward with the implementation of repeal of don't ask, don't tell. the study that the defense department is conducting does not do that. the study assumes that repeal will take place. for all intents and purposes, there is no study has to the impact on battle effectiveness and morale of repeal this legislation. so i continue to urge my colleagues to reject this effort to short circuit the process endorsed by the depend -- the department of defense leaders, not by the service chiefs, a process that was supposed to
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inform us with one that merely ratifies a politically-driven decision. we all fall or to hearing your thoughts about whether the comprehensive review should be allowed to run its course in this fashion, and what you feel about the affected could have on the united states marine corps. we also look forward to hearing your professional military advice about what policy is best for your branch of our armed services, the effectiveness and readiness of which you will be entrusted with maintaining at the highest levels if confirmed in this position. today our military continues to be engaged in combat operations, and career officers, in ceo's, and their families, are being asked to do so much. it would be a mistake to ignore the views of our troops and the military advice of the service chiefs, and for the senate to act prematurely to repeal the tariff don't ask, don't tell law for the sake of fulfilling a political promise. i look for to the testimony of
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general amos today, and i again thank him and his family for their service. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator mccain. all: senator hagen. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. ranking member mccain, members of the committee, it is with great honor and pleasure i intra kyushu and accomplished new general, and general john amos. at that daughter-in-law of all four major engine -- i introduce to you an accomplice in general, general james amos. born in the great state of idaho, he has great north carolina ties. between 2004 and 2006, he commanded the second marine expeditionary force, leading
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all marine ground aviation and logistical forces at two of our great bases in eastern north carolina. camp lucerne in jacksonville, and sherry. . locations that are home to a marine active duty, dependent cover retiree, an employee population of over 200,000. also, rumor has it that this accomplished fighter pilot too much i should note is the first aviator nominated to be commandant of the marine corps in its rich history, maintains a residence in the western portion of the tar heel state, where he likes to stay where possible. it is there in north carolina where we alert him to resign after he retires. he is not alone in this journey.
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beside him for nearly a quarter decades as she is today has been his wife, bonnie. i happen to speak to bonnie is today and she shared with me that almost 40 years ago they met in september, engage in october, and were married in december. i think we have two very smart people here. they met at the bank where she worked and as of lung -- young lieutenant, he was in flight school. they have been in 19 different locations. some better than others all have been filled with enough memory still laugh -- last three lifetimes. all been active in this -- while been active in volunteer organizations, bonnie has worked as a commercial real estate development companies for 22 years. throughout it all, their family
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has always been their number one priority. jim and connie amos have two children, ages 36 and 33, who were leading successful, professional lives despite having attended 25 different schools and 24 cumulative years of primary and secondary education. their daughter was born in hawaii and now lives in charlotte, north carolina. with her husband and two of bonnie and james's four clinton's. his wife is here and they have their other two grandchildren and also the grandson, charlie, also with us today. they lived in west virginia. this military family loves the marine corps and counted a blessing to have live throughout the united states. as you know, general amos is held the title of assistant commandant for the marine corps
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for the past two years. today we consider his nomination to be commandant, to lead a force of 250,000 active duty and 39,000 reserve marines serving on the frontiers of freedom, fighting in afghanistan, providing humanitarian relief to flood-ravaged pakistan, and practices -- rescuing vessels from pirates off the coast of somalia. join in 19 -- one in a 1946, his father received his wings flying seaplanes. eupepsia most distinguished officer before you here today. i will have you noted growing up with a father who was a navy pilot saw general amos living in memory -- many warm localities, california, florida, and the british west indies.
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his guidance counselor once wrote his parents that he feared that the general was "destined for a light as a beach bum if he did not turn things around." obviously he did turn things around. he graduated in high school in 1964 and headed to kodiak, alaska to work and halibut processing factory, the better taking a job as a laborer in a construction camp. after 15 months of that, he went back to the midwest, attended the university of idaho, and injured during navy rotc program. he graduated in 1970 with a degree in finance and embarked on a military career with aspirations to be a pilot. he was designated a naval aviator and learn to find the phantom to before the transition to the hornet. the rest, as they say, is history. over the course of his 38-year
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career, he is commanded marine aviation units from the squadron to win level. he commanded all marine aviation in iraq as the commanding general of the aircraft wing during operation iraqi freedom one and two. he is served as nato's deputy commander of the navy striking forces in italy and as the chief of staff of u.s. joint task force during the 1999 air campaign over yugoslavia. his in the commanding general of the marine corps combat development command and as a deputy commandants for combat integration. he has also been the assistant deputy commandant for plans, policies, and operations, and the assistant deputy commandants for aviation. general amos fully in the stands that the price of the war is paid by the young men and
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women that make the ultimate sacrifice to our great nation. while serving as the third marine aircraft wing commander in iraq, he had the names of each of the marines and sailors whose lives we've lost posted along a wall of his combat operations center. and honoring the manner of america's history, general amos ensures that their lives have not been lost in vain. the names of the fallen served as a daily reminder of what was at stake, and today they reinforce the general personal commitment to our force. as the assistant commandant of the marine corps, he has been at the forefront of ensuring that personal readiness for marines and their families, he has championed and tackled head on the critical readiness challenges facing our forces over the past nine years at work, and mr. chairman, the marine corps will face many challenges in the coming years,
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for most of which include supporting our marines in ongoing operations in afghanistan and elsewhere. these times will require the steady hand of the leader tested and proven in combat operations and an experienced manager with a clear vision for the future. you have such a general officer before the committee today. it is a pleasure votes to welcome and introduce general jim amos. i hope that the full senate will move swiftly to confirm this important task of continuing to ensure -- will move swiftly to confirm him so that he can move forward to the important task of continuing to ensure our marine corps remains america's expeditionary force in readiness. thank you very much, mr. chairman. you think you so much for that wonderful introduction. a warm introduction.
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other powerful introduction as well. general amos, before we call on you for your opening statement, let me ask you a set a standard questions which we asked all our nominees. had you adhered to applicable laws and regulations governing conflicts of interest? >> yes, sir, i do. >> do you agree when asked to give your personal views even if those views differ from the administration in power for margin yes, sir, i will. >> excuse me. usmc any duties or actions which would appear to resume the outcome of the confirmation process corps sergeant in no, i have not. >> would you ensure your staff complies with deadlines established for requested communications including question for the record in hearings? >> yes, sir. you and would you cooperate in providing witnesses in response
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to congressional request? >> yes, sir. >> will they be protected from reprisals from their testimony from greeting card >> yes, sir. >> de you agree to provide documents including copies of electronic forms of communication in a timely manner when requested by a duly constituted committee or to consult with the committee regarding the basis for any delay or denial in providing such documents? >> yes, sir, i will. >> now we call on you for your opening statement. feel free to introduce members of your family who were with you and anyone else you might wish to introduce. >> bank you very much. chairman 11, ranking member mccain, distinguished members of the committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you in support of my nomination to be the 35th commandants of the united states marine corps. senator hagen, thank you for
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introducing me and for your kind and generous words. you honored both me and my family and i look forward to the next opportunity for you to spend time in our law cabinet and western north carolina. we thank you for sharing a small part of the tar heel state with the famous family. while senator hagen is introduce my friend and wife, bonnie, i want to recognize her selfless contributions to me personally and to the thousands of rain families whose lives she has touched. has acknowledged earlier during our 40 years of marriage to each other, she is raged and are killed -- raised our children in my absence. she has repaired our dishwashers, are washing machine, watched over homework for children. she is the epitome of the marines bows. she is the epitome of a mom, and
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sage role model. she is the rock of our family. also with me is our daughter jamie, and our daughter-in-law, mali, and our grandchildren. behind them or role of our high school classmates >> am humbled to be honored. i am keenly aware of the challenges our nation faces today and in the future. i have been fortunate to serve as the assistant commandant for the past two years, a position that afforded me a broad view of the successive of your greens and every place. from evidence -- of your marines in every place.
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from afghanistan to the current flood release on going in pakistan, to the recapture of the pirated ship magellans start 12 days ago, and finally to the 5000 marines and seven amphibious ships and responded faithfully and with compassion to the earthquake victims in haiti earlier this year. the courage, determination, and selfless was demonstrated by your marines has been remarkable. thanks to the generals leadership, our marines have never been better trained or better lead. today, your marine course focus is on winning the war in afghanistan. that will remain the principal focus unless directed otherwise. concurrent with those efforts, however, we will look to the future to determine what our corps needs to look like in uncertain times ahead. we will shape to be our nation's
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shock force, ready to respond to a looming crisis. while we cannot predict the future, we can prepare for it. if confirmed, i will do everything in my power to ensure that our nation continues to have a marine corps to answer the call -- always faithful, always ready. thank you for the legendary support this committee has provided the marines over many decades. we exist today because of the will of congress and the american people. pledge tonenfirmed, i always have my honest assessment of what is required to maintain the health of your report and the security of our great nation. thank you for the opportunity to come before this committee and i look forward to your questions. >> thank you very much, general, and we will have a seven minute first round and perhaps a second round. general, two fundamental
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elements of the afghanistan strategy that the president announced in december, 2009, our first, a surge of 30,000 additional u.s. troops by the end of this summer to regain the initiative and secondly, the setting of the july, 2011, date for the beginning of the reduction in our combat presence in afghanistan. with the pace of those reductions to be determined by the circumstances at that time. do you agree with the president's policy? >> mr. chairman, i absolutely agree that this needs to be a conditions based effort. everything i read since the president made his announcement at west point last fall
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indicates that a withdrawal will begin and does not stipulate specifically what that means in terms of force structure. everything i have read since then would indicate that the withdrawal will be conditions on-base. i have great confidence in the leadership on the ground, and general petraeus. they know how to fight a counterinsurgency. and i have every belief that they will give the president and the secretary of defense the best military advice. >> general, do you agree that the setting of that date, july, 2011, is important for the success of our mission in afghanistan because it signals urgency to the afghan leaders, that they must more and more take responsibility for their countries security? >> mr. chairman, i do agree with that. i think it is helpful. i am pleased that it is also undergirding and backed up by the conditions on the ground.
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everybody understands that. so, yes, sir, i do agree with that. >> japan has recently reaffirmed support for an agreement that realigns u.s. forces on okinawa and moves 8000 marines and their dependents to guam. the agreement obligates japan to build a replacement facility for the marines' air station and requires the detailed management of more than $10 billion worth of projects to complete construction of all operational requirements -- housing, training ranges, as well as the upgrade to the civilian infrastructure and utilities on guam. the agreement outlines which troops will move to guam, with the units being headquarters units. are, there are reports that the
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marine corps would prefer to change the force mix to include more operational troops and fewer headquarters units. is my understanding that the marines believe that their preferred force mix would be more efficient and more effective. now, are you satisfied with the force mix of marines that are planned to be moved, and is there a mix that you believe would be preferable to the mix currently planned? >> mr. chairman, the recent agreement was made many, many years ago. i was not present when it was agreed to. but after we stopped at about two years ago, we did took a look at this. we determined and the marine corps that there probably was a better lay down. and what it did, in the effort to try to optimize the presence across the pacific, this laydown. a marine air ground task force
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at each one of the locations. so instead of having headquarters on guam, we looked at the opportunity to put a marine underground task force at one, and an open know, and one in hawaii. we have an adjustment to the laid down and we are just -- we are working with the state department right now. >> there is also concern over the marines ability to adequately train once the move has been made. a parcel of land -- paygat. do you know the pronunciation? >> it is paygat. >> paygatt has cultural significance. this has raised opposition on guam to relocating or rains on the island.
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to you think there are other acceptable trading options if pagatt is not available. >> just a recent discussion on this, i know that is still in the negotiation phase. i do not think there has been any final decision with regards to pagatt. the message the record of like to leave our brothers and sisters on bomb is set their moral history is important to us. -- on guam is that their moral history is important to us. we have every expectation that we are of able to fire are machine guns and heavy weapons out there, that it will be satisfactory in the end to our brothers and sisters on guam, and we will be good stewards of that. the issue is our presence in the pacific.
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the second is available training areas, as you talked about. the importance of the marine corps to be able to train. and finally, the quality of life for those 9000 marines and family members that will move eventually to guam. i think we can work around the pagatt issue. >> thank you. relative to the don't ask don't tell issue, the department of defense, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff both support the repeal of don't ask don't tell. they also have undertaken a study relative to how to implement that change. and that study is underway. but the decision to make the change is one that they decided was the right decision before they undertook that steady. udy. it is how to implemented which
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is the subject of the study they had undertaken. the house and senate armed services committee have both passed a provision which would repeal don't ask don't tell if and only if the president and the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff and the secretary of defense certified to congress that they have received and considered the report of the department of defense working group and only if they certify that the implementation of a repeal of the statute would be consistent with the standards of military readiness, military effectiveness, unit cohesion, and recruiting and retention. now, i understand that you have indicated that you have opposed the change in the policy. my question is this -- if at such a certification by civilian and military leadership
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were made following receipt of the report, could you have confirmed, implement a repeal of the don't ask don't tell policy in the marine corps? >> mr. chairman, the marine corps is probably one of the most faithful services you have in our country, and if the law is changed by congress and signed by the president of the united states, the marine corps will get in step. >> thank you. senator mccain? >> thank you, mr. chairman pierre thank you, general, and this is very interesting time for you to be here on your confirmation hearing. i know some of these questions are very difficult for you. in your written statements, response to questions from the committee, i quote: my personal view of the assisted a policy
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have supported the unique requirements of the marine corps band of us, i do not recommend its repeal. the potential disruption, the condition that may be caused by a significant change during a period of significant combat operations. is that an accurate quote? >> yes, sir. that sounds accurate. >> the interesting thing is that the study that is being conducted by the department of defense -- >> senator, i went through all 103 questions. >> this study does not assess the impact on morale and effectiveness of repeal of a law. and what it does is ask questions as to how the military would adjust to repeal of the law. so, therefore, we are now basing a decision that by the present
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-- facing a decision by the president of the united states, secretary of defense based on a study that does not get to the fundamental question, which is what is the effect of the repeal on moral and battle effectiveness? this study, this questionnaire assumes repeal of the law, an incredible act of disingenuous behavior on their part. and the four service chiefs, you included and general conway, all request and state their positions unequivocally that a study should be conducted that would determine the effect of morrell and battle effectiveness on the men and women who are serving. and that is also the view of the senior enlisted personnel. so i guess my question is -- what the survey, would you be
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able to determine what the effect on morale and battle effectiveness would be, or would this survey bet -- tell you how best the repeal would be implemented? >> senator mccain, i have been a big fan of the secretary of defense's effort to introduce the survey since its beginning. as i said earlier, i have gone through the entire survey, looked at every question, and i determined i would answer myself if i were taking it electronically, which i did not. there are two other parts in addition to the survey. and the survey is under way, by the way. it is out there among our family members right out. it has gone out to the active force and all the services and the reserve force. in the family members are in the process of responding to the survey. but there are two other aspects of that effort.
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the first one is kind of a tall many military installations around this country, led by senior leadership. asking questions, talking to them, getting input. the second part is an online survey were all service members can respond. it is like a blog site. they get on and you can respond and that is not e anonymous. when all this information comes in december, will there be enough information to provide the chairmen and the secretary of defense best military advice? my sense of with the survey, having read it, was in addition to those other matters, sir, i believe it will. wherever the, and that -- whatever the commandant is will be able to give his best military advice of that. >> and the response both online
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and in the town hall meetings i have been told has been overwhelmingly negative. is that true? >> iowa occurred at the marine bases and the marine -- i have heard at the marine bases in marine and put it has been profoundly negative. but i do not know that for a fact. i have not seen that. >> thank you. as you well know, later today, the senate will act without having -- knowing whether the survey is a valid or not, completed -- the service chiefs will not be required to sign off on any decision which is made. those that are given direct responsibility for the morrell ale and battle effectiveness of their respective services. unfortunately, this is all being done in light of the november 2 elections. i have never seen anything quite
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like it in my years that i have served here, because, obviously, there will be a different composition of this committee and the united states senate after november the second. i am a little concerned about the response to the chairman's commentsdivided byquestions about afghanistan. i visited with my friend, senator lieberman, senator graham, many times afghanistan. i get the opposite impression from people ranging from a police chief outside kandahar to president karzai. all of whom say that the fact that we have set a date for withdrawal, that we will be withdrawing has cost zero ripple effect -- has caused a ripple
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effect that is damaging to our ability to succeed. does not give him a sense of urgency. what gives him is a sense of survival. and it does not give the taliban the sense they are about to be extended. it gives them the impression that all they have to do is hang on -- they are not about to be exterminated. a high ranking taliban has said, you have the watches. we have the time. if it were condition based alone, there were be no one more supportive than this member. but condition based and saying that we would be withdrawn no matter what has sent a signal throughout the region from india to iran to pakistan to afghanistan, hang on, adjust to the new realities that the united states is leading. the president made the announcement -- the u.s. is leaving.
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the president made the announcement with no military recommendation to do so whatsoever. it is the president's authority to make that decision, or any decision along those lines, but to somehow believe that this is going to somehow hasten its success when that the fact is it in hanses dramatically -- enhances dramatically the chances of failure. the present commandant said that provides theh drithdrawal enemy with sustenance. i wonder if you disagree with general conway's assessment. >> i read the entire press conference that jim conway had about 10 days ago from start to finish. i have worked with him for a long time. he certainly made that comment. but as you look -- if you look at the entirety of the press
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conference, shortly thereafter, he is making comments along the lines that if the taliban in helmand think of the marines will begin a withdrawal in december, to guzzle 11, and they walk out to do their business -- in december, 2011 -- taken in context of the entire article, i believe that is what general conway was talking about. in talking about the province, i would say there is great success going on there. i do not think there is an expectation that there will be all wholesale withdrawal of helmand next summer. >> the media reports that the progress in that province has not been as rapid as we expected, nor is it in mar
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jah. and we are going to have to plan for more difficult times ahead. casualties are up, so i obviously have different information than you do about the degree of success that we have achieved so far. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator mccain. senator reed. >> thank you very much. thank you for your devoted service to the marine corps and to the nation. you have a challenging assignment, but we are all very confident you will perform at magnificent leap in that assignment. with respect to the don't ask don't tell issue, do you feel confident that you will be able to give your uninhibited advice to both secretary of defense and the president before they make any final decision going forward, if you are confirmed? >> senator, i absolutely do. we have to spend some time it taking a look at what those results look like and
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interpreting exactly what they mean, what is it telling the service chiefs. it will tell each something different, because i believe each service has its own culture. i am told that whoever is the commandant in december will receive that information specific to the united states or in court and based on that information, and whoever -- i come with 40 years of experience -- whoever is in that job will be able to provide the secretary of defense, the chairman, the best military advice. >> do you feel that in this process you and your colleagues have been educated on the issue and on the potential impact both of the pluses and minuses? >> senator, i think there are parts of this that we have not pulled back debt. by that, i am talking some policy issues, some standards of conduct issues.
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the issue of unit cohesion. we are not quite sure what the impact will be on an all volunteer force, especially our young force like the marine corps, predominantly young. 60% are 21 years or younger. and so we are not quite sure what the impact will be. so, that is the important part of the survey. it will inform us, give us a sense of that impact. but it is too soon to tell. >> now, in the process of, and i think you are right about informing yourselves, in turn, you will be in a position to inform the secretary of the defense and the white house about the perspective of the corps. i would assume that whatever decision is made, that would entail educating the marines, army, the department of defense about the new standards of conduct that might be imposed. i think that is obvious.
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>> senator, you are absolutely correct. the whole idea that at the beginning of the certification, we are able to come back to congress and to be able to say that we have thought through the policies. we thought through the legal ramifications. we thought through the monetary ramifications, the impact on buildings, barracks, base housing. we thought through all of those things, and we understand what we would call all hold dot mill pf. the whole horizon of things that would be impacted. that would be required before certification. there is a lot of work to be done once the results come in to work through that before the certification can take place. and after that, there certainly will be. there will be training. there will be a host of different aspects that we have not even thought of yet that we will have to spend time with paired >> let me just switch
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gears quickly to afghanistan. my sense i had of your response is that you see the policy of the united states is to sustain a position long term, indefinite position in afghanistan, but the size is the issue. the president clearly indicated next july that his intention is to begin to downsize forces there, but again, i do not want to put words in your mouth, but i do not hear you saying that maintaining a long-term military position in afghanistan requires having that size troop force of their indefinitely. is that an accurate deduction? >> senator, i honestly do not know -- we his starkly in combat, we typically guessed wrong.
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we do our best to be clairvoyant, but we typically are not completely accurate. that is the nature of warfare. in december in iraq, i do not think any of us believed we would be it in iraq as long as we have. in fallujah, we thought it would be a year and we could come home. none of us knew. i am confident in the u.s. military force on the ground, both army, navy, air force and marine corps. i really am. i just spoke to the burning corps commander on the ground for 45 minutes. he is a personal friend. i deployed with him in combat and i trust his judgment. he is very encouraged by what he is seeing on the ground in afghanistan. in his part of afghanistan, in
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helmand. militarily, i have to believe that that is taking place throughout the other provinces, where other servers brothers and sisters are. so i am confident that we are headed in the right direction with this thing. i cannot tell you how long the forces will be needed to be on the ground. i know there are pockets of the helmand province that are optimistic we improving every day. there is marked improvement in places like nawa, that just a year ago were absolutely taliban territory, and now the district governor is setting up schools and bazaars are open. i walked down those markets with out any helmet or flak jacket. i am optimistic about our military forces of all our services that they will be able to do their mission. i just cannot tell you how long we will need to be on the ground
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and what size force. >> a final topic. the traditional role of the marine corps is to conduct amphibious operations, to go across the beach into areas denied us. over the last 10 years now, the marine corps has been on the ground, not in the amphibious operations but in traditional, land-based operations, ground operations. how much of your basic skill set has been diminished because of your focus on other tasks that ? >> senator reed, first of all, the skill sets for combat are still there. in fact, they are probably better honed it today than they have been in the last four years of our history. those young men and women, those young staff nco's are
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fearless. they know what they are doing and they are very effective. the combat effectiveness is there. we have today three marine expeditionary units which compiled, made up of nine amphibious ships at sea. two of them off the coast of pakistan doing the relief operation and taking down the magellan star. the other one sailed 30 days early just to get over to help, another great effort by our nation to help with humanitarian assistance in pakistan. and we have a unit in the southern pacific doing operations there. so we have amphibious expertise in the marine corps. had we spend a lot of extra time doing it, other than what i just described? the answer is no. will we need to get there? yes, sir, we will.
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thanks to congress it isvinng growth, allowing us to actually do something. we can actually do the kind of training you are talking about. >> thank you very much. >> senator sessions? >> thank you, general amos. thank you for your service and your family, for their service. i am so proud of the marines. i have had the opportunity, and senator mccain had to visit with marines in serious combat areas and seeing their performance, courage, and dedication. they are the kind of people we have got to support, a farmffir, and help and train in every way
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possible. i know that you believe that and i believe you have the opportunity to play a critical role in the continued development of the marine corps. one of the visits are remember to iraq was with senator levin, and we've got a terrible, i thought, very worrisome briefing at one of the worst points in the iraq war. the marines gave us that briefing in anbar province. later, the situation turned, and as we were briefed on the second visit, the marines officers briefed us on how they bonded with the local leaders and supported them and they turned against al qaeda and ran them out in short order, supported by the united states military and particularly the marine corps. i know one war model is not
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precisely that of another one, but it seems to me that we do have to have a modest view of what we can accomplish in afghanistan. we need to understand that the remote areas of afghanistan have never been directly ruled by kabul. and we are going to have to work with local leaders much and the way that occurred in al anbar. you understand that discussion. i am sure it has been going on with the marine corps. would you briefly give your comments about how you see the central government in afghanistan relating to distant provinces and how we can best bring safety and security to some of those of distant provinces?
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>> senator sessions, you are absolutely correct. when you look back on the history of iraq. when you look back, it was probably ramadi, one of the most dangerous places. when those tribal sheikhs realize we were not the enemy, to their families by the hundreds and the awakening began. it is different than in iraq. they are not the tribal sheikhs we had in iraq. we do have tribal chiefs, but there is a hierarchy of leadership we are finding in afghanistan. it is a little more difficult to work with. we are working with it on the ground right now. probably 70%, maybe 75% of those
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great lessons learned, certainly the fundamental lessons on counterinsurgency applied in afghanistan the same way they applied in iraq. but the way we deal with the culture, the way we interact with the leadership of the tribes is a bit different. there are what we call district governors on the ground in places like nawa, all these different names you read in the paper, there are district governors appointed by the central government. some are more affected than others. -- more effective than others. there was the expectation that if we came into town, where a year and ahlhalf ago, the taliban came in five years ago and ran the villagers off.
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the marines were there. i spent christmas there. there is a good example of the central government providing a strong district governor. he cleaned the place up and rebuild the marketplace and the school. so each one of these little districts, with their governors, some are more effective than others. i think the key is that we can provide the security, but the central government needs to ensure that the government's part of helping that country is in place. >> well, i appreciate that. on the extent to which you believe that the central government is able to impose its will and order in distant provinces as a realistic goal is something that i think we have
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to wrestle with. and we do not need to be too optimistic about that. we need to be willing to accept what happened in al anbar as those local leaders brought in their children, their families and they took it over with out too much direction from baghdad. let me ask this, with regard to senator mccain's questions on don't ask don't tell, i would like to say i share his views in general there and was disturbed to read it recently in the the washington times that an army deputy chief in charge of personnel, spoke before several hundred troops in the european headquarters in germany and said "unfortunately, we have a minority of service members who are racist and bigoted and you will never be able to get rid of them."
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he said, "but these people opposing this new policy will need to get with the program, and if they cannot, they need to get out." no matter how much training and education of those in opposition, you always have those that oppose this on moral and religious grounds just like you have racists today. general amos, you will be setting the policy for the marine corps, and do you think that -- how do you feel about what appeared to be a message that if you have traditional values, that you do not have a place in the military? and if the policy changes, all should comply with it, do you believe that any marine or any marine officer is not able the
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n to express a personal opposition to that policy without being attacked? >> i will note that apparently the general said those words were taken out of context and not totally accurate, but it raises the question that is an important question. >> senator sessions, i cannot comment on that. i knew that general from dealings, but i cannot comment because i was not there. >> i want to know if you think it is appropriate leadership, a position of the military if this policy is adopted, to not allow people to have different views and for them to get out of the military. >> senator, if we step away from the don't ask don't tell, there
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are lots of things that go on it today in the american military that the average marine out there might not agree with. but the one thing we have and the marine corps is a discipline and leadership. those are the two things that i think will carry the day for as should the look at changed. but there has never been a gag order. and i do not anticipate one being put on marines. i would probably say that one of the rites of passage for being a young enlisted marine is to be able to grouse. and we do that, and they do that, and i did it as a lieutenant. i do not see that that would be an issue. >> do you condone that kind of comment, if it was an accurate quote? >> i'm sorry, senator? >> do you condone that kind of leadership from this attended general? >> sir, again, i am going to try
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to shy away from him and his comments. from my perspective, it is fundamental leadership and discipline. i do not see this as a racist issue. i do not see these as an issue -- it is not anxious issue for the marine corps because we do not have the answers yet, and we will get those. but i do not see those in the same light as it was reported. >> well, i think good people can disagree on this, and i think the military can survive and change as they have changed before. as the executive director for the center of military preparedness said, there will be no toleration of the sand if for whatever reason you disagree, whether it is religious conviction, your career will in essence be over. that would not be the policy, of you you would support, would it?
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when you take action to protect someone who generally disagrees with the change but is willing to live and work in the military in accordance with that change? >> we will. there is no question about it. we are the most disciplined service of all the ones you have. we follow orders. so the answer is, absolutely, yes we will. the less than we want to do -- if this policy is changed, the last thing you will see a marine corps do is try to step in and push it aside. that will simply not be the case. there will be issues. we will work through them. >> i am not saying put it aside. i am saying respect somebody in the marine corps who did not approve of the change, has a genuine moral or principled opposition to the change. is that career going to be over? >> that career -- and less there is something that happens i am unaware of, that career will not be over. we have plenty of issues where
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marine to disagree vocally, and you read about in our publication. >> thank you. i was troubled by this comment by a top ranking army officer. thank you very much, mr. chairman. >> senator webb? >> first, a minor correction for the record, if i may, when senator mccain mentioned that general amos would be the first commandant not from the infantry ranks, and he and i discussed, general chapman was an artillery officer and was a great, and up. certainly, will be the first marine aviator to hold commandant rank. out of my respect for general chapman, who was my comment and. general, i would like to thank you for the precise way you
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have addressed this issue on don't ask don't tell, practically with respect to this survey that was mandated after the hearings in february, when secretary gates and admiral mullen began this process. i had an exchange with them at the time, where it was my understanding, and i said it to them after their opening testimony, that the survey was vitally important. to make sure that those who are serving were a part of this process, not the political process, but that their input was of vital in terms of moving forward. and the second is, as you mentioned, was that this type of a survey would enable the military leaders to provide
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their best advice. and i think you have made that point clearly today. it is the reason i have had hesitations about moving forward at this time. and i just wanted to thank you for the precision with which you have answered these questions. we are going to have the opportunity, obviously, in future to discuss the major policy concerns, some of which you have been asked about today -- the nature of the war against international terrorism, how we are deploying our forces operationally in places like afghanistan, the drain on our people operationally with this type of structure. secondly, the very key issue coming up now about the roles and missions of the marine corps, as i think most marines fully understand -- marines do amphibious operations well. they have historically, but the amphibious role for the marine corps came out of the fact they have always been on the cutting
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edge of tactical change. they developed the amphibious doctrine in the 1930's after looking at what happened in world war rahman one in became the predominant innovators -- in world war i. you can look at preaching to the choir here, but i think our colleagues need to understand the if you look at the casualties, these words very-- very few had to do with amphibious warfare. we are going to have to address seriously the reconfiguration of the marine corps forces in asia. as you know, i spent some time as a military planner in guam in the 1970 togetherng facilities analysis out there then. i was encouraged to hear your comment about moving more operationally into the thguam
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area. i think we need to look more at tiniam, particularly for firing ranges and small maneuver areas out there. i was out there this past february looking at the training in okinawa. but today, what i would like to get your thoughts on is something more provincial, but it is disturbing to me. into that is this legislative initiative that is moving forward to change the name of the department of the navy to the department of the navy and marine corps. when you talk about troops are grousing and having a beer, this is something that came up over my many years of association with the marine corps. in my view, there is some demagoguery going on over here on this issue. i am not really sure what
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utility, changing his name would bring about, just to be frank here. it never bothered to me when i went to the naval academy that i did not go to the marine corps academy. it did not bother me when i was awarded the navy cross and it wasn't a marine corps cross. it did not bother me when i was secretary of the navy with responsibility for the navy and marine corps that i did not have that title. i think that 235 years of excellence answers the question. i am trying to figure out, on the one hand, what is the upside of doing this and what is the impact in terms of 235 years of tradition if we do it? >> senator, as you know, all the former commandants have that -- that have been asked this have
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elected to stay out of this, and they have elected to make comments such that this is a political effort and that is not a disparaging political effort. this is a political effort and it is probably not appropriate for the commandant of the marine corps to weigh in on. and that is the current position of general conway. and, sir, i would like to maintain that position. i am not sure i will be allowed to today, but i would like to be able to maintain that. and i am comfortable with that. i thought to this a lot. you and i discussed it last week in the office. at this point, i would like to keep it that way. now, is that going to be satisfactory, or do i need to dig into this a little bit more here and reveal myself? >> well, i think, let me just as k people in the marine corps to be careful about this. there is an old saying it takes 200 years to develop a
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tradition and two days to destroy one. if there is a series of side that you do not want to discuss right now, i am happy to listen to it. but i think we ought to examine the impact this would have beyond what people are thinking about in terms of may be getting more equal place at a budget process. >> sir, and we talked but to the other day, a little bit the process. just as the commandant of the marine corps was not a member of the joint chiefs of staff in the middle part of the last century, and that evolves. he was not invited to the key west meetings when they were established. it clearly had a significant contribution in the pacific. how did that happen?
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it was in the early 1950's, the commandant of the marine corps was made a member of the joint chiefs of staff. this whole process has been evolutionary since the beginning of the department of the navy. i think if you talk to the marines out there -- no, i cannot -- i have not gone out for a survey, but my instincts and talking to marines are that where we are in 2010, today, because of where we have evolved, we are a pretty formidable force for our nation. and i think of this early, and this is objectively. this is a not the park that has analysis behind it. subjectively, the average fleet marine would look at the secretary and say, yes, i would like to be called the secretary of the navy and the secretary of the marine corps. is that worth breaking news years of traditions'? i am not sure is. but that is not really the basis
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behind it. we paid a pretty healthy price. and we feel pretty irrelevant right now. that is a heartfelt answer. >> the marine corps has always paid a heavy price in every war from world war i, particularly forward. 103,000 were killed or wounded in vietnam. at the same time, if i had set down over a beer in 1969, people would say, yes, why can't we be the secretary of the navy and marine corps? but just think about the other implications here. and i would say, i am not sure people have really studied the other areas that this might affect. thank you, mr. chairman. >> thank you very much, senator
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webb. senator brown. >> i am honored to meet you. i have seen you on tv as well. i have seen you on television and the newspapers. thank you for in your service and for the sacrifice your family has made to support your career. i was wondering if you could help define what you feel the marine corps's mission post iraq and post afghanistan will be? the u.s. in general thoughts on that? >> senator brown, thank you for the opportunity to take the committee to a little glimpse of what we in the marine corps see in the future of the marine corps. the title of america's expeditionary force and readiness catches up. it needs a little bit of explanation, but that is the
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overarching sense of what we need to provide our nation. the nation pays a price in readiness for its green corn. in other words, to have a force that is ready -- the nation pays a price in readiness for its marine corps. when the president says, sending a force. we have a crisis that is brewing that we want to circumvent, that we want to terminate, we want to intervene on early on. that requires a force that is ready. so the marine corps needs to be that force already. as we come out of afghanistan, what i pledge this committee, if i become the 35th commandant, is we will maintain that force of readiness. i think our nation expected. and that is why the model of sending the marines resonance so well across this country. that is the first cases, the writing is. the second piece is i think we need to be forward deployed -- that is the first case, the readiness.
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the second piece is i think we need to be forward deployed. engagement with the nations and more prevention activities. the ability to train armies. the ability to be present and help nations train their forces. i think that is of vital role of the marine corps. i think we need to be the nation's crisis response force. not everybody can be bet. we need to be light enough to get their rapidly. and heavy enough to carry the day for whatever the crisis is. and it is our intention to refocus ourselves back on that ability to be our nation's crisis response force. so when the president says, sent in the marines. we are theeither there or we can get there rapidly. that will be our focus in the next two decades after we come out of afghanistan. >> company you feel you have the tools and resources you will need, especially based upon some of the cuts being proposed?
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will you have those tools and resources to do the job and to keep your men and women save? >> senator, we have what we call a force structure review group going on right now. that means we have an effort by some of our best minds in the marine corps to determine what the shape of the marine corps will look like pose afghanistan. what should it be? how many size units? what should be the composition of those units? based on the results of that, which we should see in the early part of january, that will help us determine do we have the asset? we may have the organic assets right now. i do know the equipment we have in afghanistan is going to have to be what we call reset. it is. have to go into the deeper level minutes and get refurbished or we will have to replace it. so there is the reset bill out there to kind of help the marine corps get well post afghanistan. so is it too soon for me to tell
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do we have the resources right now. i know that we will be reshuffling the deck. i know what ever the force structure -- whenever that force structure review groups comes out, then we will begin at to reorganize the marine corps and that will determine then what those resurfaced -- those assets, what will be required to help reorganize the marine corps. it is too soon to tell right now. >> and how is the truth or all with all of the deployment and the family morale -- the troop morale, with all the deployments, and the family are morale? >> first, troop morale. while these are some of the toughest times, these are also the best times. the morale among marines is sky high. when you visit them down in helmand province, they are
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living in tough conditions. some of them are living in what we call tin cans, the small trailers. but the bulk of those 20,000 marines are deployed in small villages, living in pop tents, have not had a bath and 30 days, eating mre's and living a hard life, but they are a happy life. it is almost counterintuitive that you can take young men and women and put them in an environment like that or promised them in training that will go in an environment like that and they would be happy about it. so the morale among the marines is happy. our recruiting is up. in fact, if you signed up in september to the united states marine, an infantryman, you could not go to paris island or san diego and a probably around february or march. we are backed up with the number of applicants. so that part is exceptional. my sense is that marines are getting to do what they signed up to do.
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we promised -- you come in, it will be tough, you will join us. we are not the least bit interested in joining you. you join this elite organization, this war fighting organization and we will probably put you into harm's way. my sense is we are fulfilling our part of the promise, and i think young men and women are attracted to this. the second part is the morale of the families. that is the part i worry the most about, because it is tough. it was exciting for the first couple of years. for our families, we have some of the best programs in the entire military. but my sense right now is our families are getting tired. we have families that are on their fifth and sixth deployment. so when you start talking families, even though we are caring for them well and reaching out to them and doing everything in our power to put our arms around them, our families are getting tired. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, sir. good luck. >> senator, thank you.
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the defense authorization bill will hopefully be coming to the floor at 11:00 heard it will be a cloture vote on that bill at 2:15. i must go to the floor and senator good when has kindly offered to take the gavel. we appreciate that. hassenator goodwin kindly offered to take the gavel. i want to pay special thanks to your grandson at charlie. yes sat there all morning looking interesting in what grandfather had to say. i have five kids and i know what the task is to hear your grandpa and answer some technical questions. but he deserves some kind of a medal for his wonderful behavior here today. but thank you for your passion for the marines. it comes through loud and clear this morning and it is a